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Canadian mining company says it wants a “social licence” for controversial project in Argentina

Wednesday, February 1st 2012 - 06:34 UTC
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The project has encountered mounting resistance from residents protesting the use of cyanide to extract mainly gold The project has encountered mounting resistance from residents protesting the use of cyanide to extract mainly gold

The Canadian Osisko mining corporation has suspended a gold mining project in Argentina after protests by locals. Osisko said on Tuesday it would put its operation in north-western La Rioja province on hold if it did not get the backing of the local population which has been protesting for weeks.

Osisko announced it had started “to design and prepare a community information and consultation program” in order to “look for social licence” after residents in the surroundings of the Famatina mining project protested the initiative amidst accusations of a possible environmental pollution.

“If there is no social licence for exploration and development around the Famatina project area, no work will be conducted by MEP,” the company said in a press release.

“In response to recent community protests and media reports and requests regarding Osisko’s activities in La Rioja Province, Argentina, the company would like to provide an update regarding the company’s current and planned involvement in the Famatina Project” said the release.

“At this point in time Famatina is an exploration project only; there is no current plan, design or intent for any mining operations. The company is committed to socially and environmentally responsible exploration and development, and is dedicated to performing its work programs to the highest international standards of acceptance,” it continues.

The statement explains that representatives of its subsidiary company Minera El Portal (MEP) have started to design and prepare a community information and consultation program.

“This information and consultation is primary to the commencement of any exploration work on the site. If there is no social license for exploration and development around the Famatina project area, no work will be conducted by MEP” it adds, meaning that no mining developments will be taking place in the area against the will of the local population.

Osisko stresses that the project will bring potential economic benefits to the community and province and rejects accusations that it is a “mega-mining” operation.

In fact, “the development of a mine is still highly hypothetical, since very little is known about the amount, quality and location of the mineral resources that may exist in the properties within the Famatina Project”.

The protesters among other arguments such as the lack of information and contract conditions, say mining of the Famatina Mountain would require a million litres of water a day and the use of cyanide to extract precious metals.

Last Friday, a delegation travelled to the Canadian embassy in Buenos Aires to make its opposition to the project known.
 

Categories: Economy, Environment, Argentina.

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